Interview: xCAUTERIZEx – antifascist vegan straightedge

  • Q: With xCAUTERIZEx a new vsxe band is in town, tell us, who you are and where do you come from.

Colton: Most of us currently live in Portland, but Jack spends his time between some random place in the woods and a boat.

Jack: My names Jack, I do vocals. Im originally from upstate NY, however my wife and I recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest.

Ben: I’m Ben. We’re in the Portland, OR area and I’ve been here for awhile, but I grew up in Reno, Nv.

Stevie: My name is Stevie. Originally from Oklahoma, but currently Portland, Oregon.

Sean: We are a vegan straight edge band formed in the increasingly repressive and authoritarian climate of Portland, Oregon. Several of us have been friends for a while, sharing the same ethics, politics, and taste in music. Colton and Ben were the first two in the band to talk about forming a band. Stevie was mentioned and showed interest around when I started to show interest in playing bass. However, the current configuration of the band wasn’t settled on until we hooked up with Jack and he was down to sing. That was the final piece that fell into place that makes xCauterizex what it is today.

  • Q: As some of you were involved into other projects in the past, what was the casting vote, that you joined xCAUTERIZEx?

Colton: Me and Stevie were in a short lived band called Unrest and wanted to start another straight edge band that inspires people to mosh.

Jack: This past summer I made the permanent move to the Pacific Northwest and I had been wanting to start up a project out here. I sort of knew Stevie before moving out here and had mentioned to him that I’d like to get something going and asked if he would be a part of it. Soon after he responded saying that he was actually part of a new xvx band and they happened to be looking for a vocalist, so I went to a practice and yelled into a mic and here we are.

Ben: Some of us had been talking about starting a band for awhile and we were finally able to make it happen. I was interested in creating music with a political message, which I feel can ebb and flow in hardcore, and enjoying the opportunity to make something like that with others.

Stevie: Colton and I played music together in the past, and currently live together. He was writing music and throwing ideas at me, he bought another guitar amp, I bought a guitar. Boredom?

Sean: For me, this is the first time I’ve played in a band in about 15 years. I was attracted to this band because I really enjoy everyone in the band and we all have very similar viewpoints. However, each of us have diverse personal experiences that bring something unique and enriching to the band. I also personally feel like there really aren’t too many metalcore bands presently in America that embody the sound and politics of bands like Morning Again, Undying, and later anarchist/anti-authoritarian metalcore bands. It is this space that I wish to occupy with this band: heavy metalcore mixed with revolutionary politics.

  • Q: Some people use the term veganedge so to distinguish oneself from other people, for other ones it is a way of self-commitment and compassion. What was your reason, to life a drug-/cruelty-free live?

Colton: I believe in self determination. For myself and for all other living things.

Jack: Vegan Straightedge is one of the most important combined decisions I have ever made. Alcohol and drug use ruined the lives of people close to me growing up, thankfully not in my immediately family, but extended family and close friends. I knew from an early age that it wasn’t a path I was interested in going down. Listening to bands like Minor Threat really helped solidify those beliefs as a kid. It wasn’t until my late teen years that I claimed straight edge though. Veganism in my opinion goes hand and hand. My parents instilled the values of compassion towards the animals, our planet and other people around me. I grew up vegetarian and at the age of 19 I made the decision to eliminate all animal products from my life and live as compassionately as I could.

Ben: I grew up experiencing the negative effects alcohol can have on a person and those closest to them. I’ve never been interested. All of that would only get in the way of the life I’d like to live. And I think sound politics and ethics should inevitably lead a person (from almost any starting point) to confront the use of other animals as simply a means to our (usually trivial) ends, and especially on the scale it’s done now.

Stevie: I mean, I’m still vegan straightedge, and always will be, but not something I advertise necessarily. Never smoked, never did drugs, never been drunk. I’m straightedge, even if that term didn’t exist. I have no interest in that culture of partying or whatever. I went vegan for the animals. However, I’m not disillusioned that my actions negatively affect the planet on a daily basis. It’s like the least I can do.

Sean: For me, claiming straight edge was a reaction to my father being an alcoholic and eventually committing suicide. Because of this, being straight edge has always been something deeply personal to me. Veganism on the other hand, although also personal, has always taken on a much more political flavor, being more about animal and earth liberation than about health or other personal convictions. That being said, I do believe being vegan straight edge can be an effective tool for educating people about the destructive nature of capitalism and the state, whether it is teaching people how the United States government used crack cocaine to pacify black communities in inner cities that were becoming increasingly radicalized, or using money that would otherwise be used on drugs to help build community empowerment collectives. For me, vegan straight edge is most effective when it is weaponized.

  • Q: I am sure, we all try to make the earth a better place for our non-human friends and mother nature. Where is your focus? I mean, are you specifically supporting a good cause and want to talk about, so that other people can check it out?

Colton: I believe that direct action is the best way to affect change so I’d like to encourage everyone, on an individual level, to act in a way that is both effective and cathartic. Whether that means striking at institutions of oppression and domination or working to heal and build a better world is up to you. Things are looking more bleak than ever and there’s so much that needs to be done. Prison abolition, animal liberation, anti-colonial/anti-pipeline struggles, the frontline is everywhere so fight where you stand.

Jack: I do what I can to try and make this place we call home a little better. The struggle of an activist is always wishing we could do more with the time that we have. I work full time with Sea Shepherd Global as an officer onboard the ships doing campaigns all over the world. I typically do a 3 months on 3 months off rotation with them. This band stands for a lot and it’s awesome to have a creative outlet to be a part of in my time off the ships. I am a firm believer that if you have an opportunity to speak out against oppression than it’s your duty to do so. That’s exactly what we hope to achieve with this band.

Ben: I’ve found myself in labor organizing over the last few years, but we’re living in a moment where there’s so much happening all around. We’re looking at massive changes in habitability on the planet, there are violent ultra-right-wing groups in the streets in Portland and elsewhere.. I see capitalism and the instrumental worldview it engenders as the biggest barrier we need to topple. Whatever anyone can organize around in order to halt and reverse the current planetary trajectory humanity has created.

Sean: In the past I’ve been involved in several projects, from Earth First to union and student organizing. Currently, aside from confronting fascists on the streets when they try to have rallies here in Portland, I’ve been going to Anarchist Black Cross prisoner letter writing events. I feel like doing work behind the scenes is more where I’ve found I can contribute most and also where a lot of work needs to be done. It isn’t always the most flashy and “cool” work, but it’s vital to sustaining our revolutionary movements.

  • Q: Pick one record which you are never tired of listening to and which influenced you most to be that person you are today.

Colton: That’s difficult to choose just one but I’m going to go with Catharsis – Passion. Honorable mentions to Trial – Are These Our Lives and Gather – Beyond the Ruins.

Jack: That is such a hard question to answer, I’m not sure if I can narrow it down to just one but if I had to it would probably be Destroy The Machines. An honorary mention would certainly be One King Down – Bloodlust Revenge as well.

Ben: My more common or cliche answer might be Trial – Are These Our Lives? Following that, I’d say Remembering Never – Women and Children Die First had a big impact on me when it came out.

Sean: This is really difficult, as I feel like I’ve taken bits from many bands and never got too hung up on one band. However, the one record I have consistently listened to since I was about 15 is a CD Tragedy put out with both Self Titled and Vengeance on it. I used to listen to that CD endlessly from beginning to end while reading the lyrics sheet. I feel like both those records beautifully exemplify both the desperation and rage I constantly feel about the state of world under the inherently exploitative and commodifying nature of capital, the hollowness of a culture based on the individual over the collective, and our blatant disregard for non-human life. I know that’s two records but they were on one CD!

  • Q: If some would grant you one wish, what would it be?

Colton: To smash every fucking cage and burn every prison.

Jack: For humans and animals to live together in harmony with nature. Humanity has been decimating the earth and exploiting both human and non human animals for far too long.

Sean: To create a world where we don’t have to fuck each other over to survive, where life can be dedicated to self-actualization and realizing our interdependency to both human and non-human life, and to a world where pleasure and desire is valued over profit and domination.

  • Q: Let’s change the game, ask me one question, you are interested in regarding Animals X Kingdom, or me personally.

Colton: There are two types of people in the world: those who believe that breakfast is a meal eaten at a certain time of day, or those who believe that breakfast is a meal eaten in relation to when you wake up. Which type of person are you?

Animals X Kingdom: Haha, what a funny question, I really did not expected that one, but thats good. I would say, I do not define my meals by breakfast, lunch, dinner. I eat when I want and what I want. So maybe one day at 10am I cook pasta and the other day at 11pm I am eating fruits with oatmilk and cereals.

Jack: Why don’t you tell everyone what prompted you to become vegan and straightedge and what brought upon your project?

Animals X Kingdom: When I was a teenager I was very often drunk and thought that was cool, because all my friends drank alcohol too. But then one day, I was bored at school, so I draw a big X on my hand, with no intention. Later that day a friend of mine asked me if I am now straightedge. I asked him what that is and he told me to check out Minor Threat and the movement Ian MacKaye and the rest of the band started with the song Straightedge. I found this very interesting and it was a logical step in the right direction, because I thought of reducing my alcohol intake drastically. And to see how people around me got fucked up my drugs and alcohol, I stopped drinking alcohol somewhere 10 years ago. But the last time I was completely drunk was 12 years ago, on my 17th birthday. Round about at the same I went vegetarian, because I no longer want to be a part of that cruel society. I moved my music taste from punk to crust/grindcore and with all the small events and gatherings like food not bombs, vegan potlucks etc, I quit my „old live“ with becoming vegan when I was 18years old. I am now 10 years vsxe and I do not regret anything.

Long time ago, I thought of how could I support the animals the best way. And how cool would it be, to have a small blog/label where I can release/sell stuff. But year after year nothing happened until I finally decided I want to do something, now. So I bought my first distro records, made the website and defined my rules for the label regarding donations etc. And I am really happy with the outcome so far.

Sean: What was your motivations behind starting the label? Was it for the music, the message, or both? And through these motivations, how do you envision the future of the label?

Animals X Kingdom: I already answered the question above in some ways, but I can go a bit deeper. For me, the main reason was and still is liberating animals, provide them a safe forever home and shut down the cruelty against our non-human animal friends, by any means necessary. Going that way, I combined it with the music part, because I knew a few people and so I could start while knowing that I reach at least some people (at the beginning). The future of the label is to work only with real dedicated people, nothing fancy or wannabes. I know I will never be that famous as other labels are, but at least is everything done by me, everything goes to support non-human animals and I give a fuck about people/bands/labels/groups/organizations etc. who think, they are the best when they once scream animal liberation but in the background still collect leather sneaker just because they are sooo cool. I will focus more on supporting POW’s and sanctuaries and learn in the background how shelters are working and help them out as good as possible. I don’t need to wear a VEGAN shirt and post every day on Instagram my latest fancy vegan milkshake. I will not show the people who I am on the internet or tell everything what I am doing outside of the label, but trust me, I will fight for total animal liberation, whatever it may take.

  • Q: If there is anything else you want to share with the community, feel free to do that now!

Colton: Fuck the police, cultivate anarchy.

Jack: I would just like to thank all of those who have supported this project so far, we are just getting going, I can promise you all that. A special thanks to my band mates for putting up with my busy schedule and for being understanding. For earth, animal and human liberation. Go vegan.

Sean: For me, this band is just as much about the message as it is about the music. I highly encourage you to get active in your community to fight fascism, homophobia, speciesism, or any other of the myriad problems your community faces. If nothing else, I hope these songs guide you to the realization that change starts with us and reverberates out through our networks to contribute to larger movements for liberation.

Please note, the first demo tape of xCAUTERIZEx will get released on Animals X Kingdom in March. The tape is now up for sale here.

Feel free to listen to their demo on bandcamp in the meantime

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